Robert Jenrick has been sacked from his post as Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary. He was the third major name to go, following the sackings of Gavin Williamson as Education Secretary and Robert Buckland as Justice Secretary.
He's been replaced by former Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, one of the most experienced operators in the Cabinet and seen as something of a big-hitter in government and someone effective at working the Whitehall system. He's also a controversial and divisive figure, however, who was heavily involved with the Vote Leave campaign in the lead-up to the EU referendum alongside Boris Johnson.
He has previously worked as Education Secretary (where his reforming agenda proved highly controversial), Justice Secretary and Environment Secretary, and has been in office - on and off - for over a decade under three different Prime Ministers. He has twice unsuccessfuly put himself forward for the leadership of the Conservative Party, in 2016 and 2019.
“We welcome today’s appointment of Michael Gove as the new Secretary of State for Housing. Over the past 18 months housing has been high on the political agenda, with the long term Covid-19 inflicted stamp duty holiday and evictions ban due to close at the end of the month. We look forward to meeting the new Secretary of State and his team over the coming months and hope the Department's position and policy focus stays on track,” Propertymark CEO Nathan Emerson said.
In a tweet after his removal, Jenrick said: "It’s been a huge privilege to serve as Secretary of State @mhclg. Thank you to everyone at the department for their hard work, dedication and friendship. I’m deeply proud of all we achieved. I will continue to support the Prime Minister and the Government in every way I can."
The 39-year-old, who was seen as something of a rising star when he first joined the Cabinet and is known to be a Boris Johnson loyalist, has been dogged by various scandals since he took on the role of Housing Secretary - in particular question marks over his links to Tory donors and especially billionaire media mogul Richard Desmond.
The Times has reported various sleaze allegations against Jenrick over the last 18 months, with the biggest controversy concerning a planning decision made, against the advice of planning officers, for a £2 billion, 500-apartment London housing scheme led by Richard Desmond. The move was subsequently ruled as unlawful.
He has also faced criticism over his handling of leasehold, cladding and planning reform. Many Tories have been increasingly concerned, following the shock by-election defeat earlier this year in Amersham and Chesham, a traditional Conservative heartland, of how proposed planning reforms are going down with its voter base.
Tory MPs in Green Belt areas had been left horrified by Jenrick's initial plans to create a presumption in favour of development in some areas, as part of the wide-ranging Planning Bill, and it's expected that the plans will be abandoned in light of a backlash from southern voters and MPs.